As part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Water Tower, Chicago Fire Engine 98 had an open house that we spotted on our way back to the parking garage. ($34 for 2 hours) I've read that it was the oldest engine house in Chicago. But the firefighter that we talked to said it was the third oldest until the oldest was closed. That is, it is currently the second oldest. He didn't know what the current oldest one is.
It has the same castellated, dolostone architecture as the water tower and pumping station. (The traffic on Chicago Avenue in this area was remarkably light.)
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The building was in the shadow of the skyscraper that is on the south side of Chicago Avenue.
Normally, an ambulance is parked to the left of the pumper. They had the ambulance parked on the street to make room for the people.
...the bottom of the tower in which they dry the hoses.
Some of the firefighters do use the fire pole.
During the two years the firefighter we were talking to had been assigned to this engine house, he has gone to three stove fires, one restaurant and two residential. None of the eight false alarms where malicious; they were all accidental. The ambulance is much more busy than the pumper. In fact, the pumper sees more action providing assistance when there is a problem out on the lake. He was not on duty the day his colleague, who was about 10 feet away from us talking to some other people, saved a woman who was pulled out of the water using CPR.
The top rack below holds the cloth pressure hoses that are used to spray water on the fire. They are the ones that are still dried in the hose tower after each use. The big 6" rubber hoses in the lower left go from the hydrant to the pumper. The hoses next to the hydrant hoses supply water to snorkel trucks. The 3" pressure hoses in the lower right are used to connect the pumper to the standpipe of a skyscraper. Their pumper is one of four in the city that has a three-stage pump to produce the higher pressure necessary to shove the water to the upper stories served by a standpipe. Most trucks have just a two-stage pump.
He mentioned that the room in back, which is now the kitchen and lounge area, was the stables. When we lit up at that fact, he took use out back to show us the door in the upper story that was used to put hay in the loft. It still has the beam that held the hoist for the hay.
A couple of the decorative touches.
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